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Archive for the ‘Upside-Down Drawing’ Category

KatRaeburn

If you squint a little, you’ll see two dark stripes.  At the same time you see a profile.  Stay with this.  Keep looking at the whole page.

The mark making in the dark passages is so rich that you’re drawn (!) in to dwell on the intensity of that texture.  The next second you’re reading the face with its clear profile and the hint of an eye in the shadow side.  Your brain flickers like a strobe light, back and forth in this paradox.

This is uncanny, very powerful.

Drawing by Kat.

Here’s what I mean by “two dark stripes”:

KatRaeburn copy

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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HenryRaeburnBWusdRaeburn’s portrait of Robert Brown hangs at the Art Institute of Chicago.  I admire it at every visit.  It is painterly, with quick, sure dashes of the brush: look at the hair, the edge of the collar.

Of all the student copies of this portrait (up-side-down) this drawing, by Mary, is most “painterly.”

When we see lines in a drawing or a painting, our attention traces the line and we feel assured of clarity and rationality.  Lines delineate shapes, orient us and tell us what’s what.

MaryRaeburn

Notice, there are no lines in Mary’s drawing.  Everything is effect, shades of gray, nuance. Imagine navigating over your drawing paper without the guidance of lines.  It takes intense concentration. This is quite an achievement.

When we draw portraits we are not satisfied with mere accuracy of facial features.  We always read the emotion in the face.  When you consider that this drawing was done up-side-down, is it not astonishing how such a process can result in such depth of emotion?

To review how this drawing exercise was set up, visit

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-1/

To compare other students’ work:

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-3/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-2/

 

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.katherinehilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

 

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20190905_123041.jpg

Students gasped when this drawing was turned around, to be seen right-side-up.

It was drawn up-side-down, remember. Btw,  No student cheated by turning the drawing right-side-up before it was finished.

When you’re drawing up-side-down, you enter a state of –hello!—pure seeing.  Sounds corny, but the name of this class is simply Drawing as Seeing.  It’s thrilling!

Notice how the sliver of reflected light on the face’s shadow side makes the drawing three-dimensional. So subtle, so powerful.

The time allotted for this assignment was a little over an hour.

Drawing by Shweta.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-2/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-1/

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.katherinehilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

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JudyRaeburn

This student, Judy,  also working upside-down, stayed with the assignment.  So difficult, remember.  It can be very frustrating not to be able to outline the eyes with some clarity.

But look, turned right-side-up, the face comes through with eerie intensity.  Most striking is the eye on the shadow side of the face.  Notice, that the only thing that says “eye” is the white of the eye.  There is no other anatomical feature stated.

We will continue to work with faces in this class.  What makes a likeness, an emotional expression–what draws a viewer in—all that is quite nuanced and fascinating.

To review the basic set-up of this assignment, visit:

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-1/

 

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

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HenryRaeburnI like to present my students with art work that feels modern but was actually done centuries ago.  Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) was a Scottish portrait painter with a modern, romantic sensibility.  In our fourth drawing class we were working from Raeburn’s portrait of one Robert Brown of Newhall (1790’s), about whom I know nothing, but Raeburn must have seen him as self-confident and introverted at the same time.

Now, the catch is that we drew Mr. Brown upside down from a b/w Xerox copy.

HenryRaeburnBWusd

This is a difficult assignment!

It’s difficult because, even looking at it upside down, you know it’s a face and that means you want to do it justice.  You want to get it right. You know, for example, that the grayish smudge you’re looking at in the Xerox copy is actually representing an eye. An eye is a highly intelligent feature and it’s super important in getting a likeness.

20190905_114033

As you can see, this student could not resist the temptation of drawing a clear face with clearly articulated features.  It’s interesting that Robert Brown’s keen intelligence somehow comes through in Justin’s line drawing.

But, alas, the assignment was not to produce a line drawing but to observe and duplicate the various shades of gray. So difficult, takes so much patience and detachment.  We will have more exercises like this to practice.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Raeburn

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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updrip2

This painting actually preceded the one you saw in the last post.  This composition consists primarily of vertical lines with horizontals making only a tentative entrance. Compared to the later painting, Up-drip, Side-drip, this one looks like an investigation. An exciting investigation, to be sure.  All art is an investigation.

Because the drips in this version are fewer and don’t rush to the opposite edge, they appear to meander like branches. As up-drips they appear to sprout skyward, suggesting organic forms.  We don’t get that illusion in the later Up-drip, Side-drip  where the drips read like straight lines drawn with a nicked ruler.

These two paintings appear to promise a series—further investigations.  Who knows where the grid will lead us, how the drips will rush or meander and…we haven’t even talked about those circles yet.

Notice, when the drips actually drip like drips, your mind wanders to more literalness, as in “what’s this red stuff dripping here, where am I and what do these other colors represent?” Literalness is not so interesting, is it.

updrip2-copy

Veronica Sax, painting in acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 30,” early November 2016

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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updrip1

Dripping paint on a canvas conveys the feeling of immediacy and urgency, doesn’t it.  It’s as if you were standing next to the artist while she was painting and you were witnessing the physicality of this gooey substance in its tug with gravity.

Now, paint drips down, not up.  I say that, because we often turn a canvas upside-down to see if that view will work better or, at least, what the new view will teach us.  When a drip is seen upside-down, it may work and it may not.  If the dripping paint is thick, it most often will look disturbing when seen upside down. If the dripping paint is highly diluted and therefore thin, it will run down fast and in a fairly straight line all the way to the bottom edge of the canvas.  It will read primarily as a straight line and only on closer inspection will you see that it’s actually a drip. It will read as a straight line even when the canvas is turned upside-down.

This kind of double take tickles the mind.

The brushstrokes and color blotches look random.  And, certainly, the drips by their very nature are random. But notice, the composition is severely rectilinear.  Notice also, that in the painting process the canvas was rotated more than once: sideways drips.   It’s the coexistence of this grid effect with the drippy-splashy-rubbing paint that makes for deep drama.  We like drama.

The drips obeying gravity—as they were created in the first place—look less exiting.  Or do they?

updrip1-copy

Veronica Sax, painting in acrylic on canvas, 30” x 30,” November 2016

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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